Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member Latest Breaking News Editorials & Other Articles General Discussion The DU Lounge All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search


Zorro's Journal
Zorro's Journal
January 9, 2019

Gov. Gavin Newsom orders 'reinvention' of troubled California DMV

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday ordered an overhaul of the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which has been plagued by hours-long wait times at field offices, computer crashes and voter registration errors involving tens of thousands of customers.

Just a few days after taking office, Newsom appointed a top advisor to a new “DMV Reinvention Strike Team” to revamp the beleaguered agency over the next six months.

“By any metric, California DMV has been chronically mismanaged and failed in its fundamental mission to the state customers it serves and the state workers it employs,” Newsom said in a statement, adding “It’s time for a reinvention.”

The governor appointed state Government Operations Agency Secretary Marybel Batjer to lead the strike team with a goal of modernizing the agency and enacting changes that improve customer satisfaction, employee performance and transparency. Newsom also ordered an accelerated review of initial findings of an ongoing audit ordered last year by Gov. Jerry Brown.


January 8, 2019

There is no security crisis at the border

Tuesday evening, President Trump plans to tell the nation that the situation at the southern border is so extraordinarily bad, the only solution is to do something extraordinarily bad. He will be wrong on both counts.

The president has already taken one extreme step, forcing some 830,000 federal workers to work without pay or be furloughed because Congress wouldn’t accede to his petulant demand to spend billions of dollars on a bigger, longer wall along the border. In effect, Trump has taken nine federal departments and dozens of federal agencies hostage until he can force his will on the branch of government that, under the Constitution, holds the federal purse strings.

It’s not the first time that part of the federal government has shut down over a funding dispute between Congress and the White House; there were eight brief shutdowns during President Reagan’s two terms, most of them over fiscal matters. But Trump is now talking about upping the stakes to a degree never seen before — by declaring a “national emergency” and then claiming (perhaps spuriously) the power to fund construction of the wall that Congress refuses to build.

That would be a reckless and arrogant expansion of executive authority, and Trump should abandon any thought of it. Nor should he prolong the shutdown to try to force Congress to fund a wall that is rich in exclusionary symbolism but unlikely to have much effect on illegal immigration and drug smuggling.


January 8, 2019

Corey Stewart, the firebrand Virginia Republican, will leave politics in December

Corey A. Stewart, the Republican firebrand whose fights to crack down on illegal immigration and preserve Confederate monuments reflected the nation’s increasingly polarized political landscape, is calling it quits after 15 years on the Prince William Board of County Supervisors.

In an interview, Stewart, 50, said he will not seek a fourth term as board chair this year and is leaving politics “for the foreseeable future” to focus on his international trade law practice and the business ambitions of his wife, Maria’s.

Citing his 16-point loss to Sen. Tim Kaine (D) in a November election where Virginia Republicans also lost three U.S. House seats, Stewart said his departure from state politics will last “until and unless the Commonwealth is ready for my views on things, and that’s not right now, clearly.”

As far as the Prince William County board job goes, he said, dealing with land-use cases and the county budget “just isn’t exciting for me anymore.”


January 8, 2019

President Trump is entering his terrible twos

He shuts down the government, maybe for “years.” He wants a wall that is “transparent,” then concrete, then slatted, then steel. One moment he’s leaving Syria, the next he isn’t. He’s watching too much TV and yelling at everyone.

This is all to be expected. President Trump is entering his terrible twos.

The Trump presidency turns two this month, and though we often hear the mantra “this is not normal,” what the president is doing actually is normal. For a 2-year-old.

If you want to understand this White House, turn off Wolf Blitzer and pick up Benjamin Spock. The ninth edition of the late pediatrician’s famous guide, first published in 1946, tells us all we need to know about this presidency as it approaches its second birthday:

“This can be a physically exhausting and trying time.”


January 8, 2019

Could a Chinese-made Metro car spy on us? Many experts say yes.

The warnings sound like the plot of a Hollywood spy thriller: The Chinese hide malware in a Metro rail car’s security camera system that allows surveillance of Pentagon or White House officials as they ride the Blue Line — sending images back to Beijing.

Or sensors on the train secretly record the officials’ conversations. Or a flaw in the software that controls the train — inserted during the manufacturing process — allows it to be hacked by foreign agents or terrorists to cause a crash.

Congress, the Pentagon and industry experts have taken the warnings seriously, and now Metro will do the same. The transit agency recently decided to add cybersecurity safeguards to specifications for a contract it will award later this year for its next-generation rail cars following warnings that China’s state-owned rail car manufacturer could win the deal by undercutting other bidders.

Metro’s move to modify its bid specifications after they had been issued comes amid China’s push to dominate the multibillion-dollar U.S. transit rail car market. The state-owned China Railway Rolling Stock Corp., or CRRC, has used bargain prices to win four of five large U.S. transit rail car contracts awarded since 2014. The company is expected to be a strong contender for a Metro contract likely to exceed $1 billion for between 256 and 800 of the agency’s newest series of rail cars.


January 8, 2019

The JEDI war: Amazon, Oracle and IBM battle in mysterious world of military contracts

Some of the biggest companies in tech are fighting with the U.S. government over questionable practices in the mysterious world of military contracts, with a lucrative prize at the end: a hefty $10 billion, multi-year cloud-computing deal.

At stake is a highly publicized but controversial contract to provide cloud services for the Department of Defense, dubbed Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI. The contract received interest from the top cloud-computing players, many of which submitted bids for the deal: Amazon.com Inc.’s Amazon Web Services, IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp.’s Azure and Oracle Corp.

The plans call for the JEDI program to become the key component for the DOD’s enterprise cloud strategy, the DOD’s chief information officer, Dana Deasy, said in a letter to potential cloud partners. The JEDI cloud will serve as the infrastructure spanning from the DOD offices at the Pentagon to soldiers in the field. As opposed to a vast set of incompatible databases that they have in the field now, the deal envisions a unified cloud providing access to data through a range of devices to make decisions on the fly, using machine learning.

While the goal is admirable, the process and plans have been questioned by some contenders. Amid the acronyms and the mind-numbing jargon of both the DOD and the cloud industry, at least two cloud rivals, with the support of two members of Congress, have said that the request for proposal, or RFP, process appears to be flawed because it is going against industry practices by seeking only one cloud provider. They also believe that the language of the program appears to be tailored to one company alone: Amazon’s AWS.


January 7, 2019

Memo to conservatives: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez understands federal taxes better than you do

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shocked the political establishment by defeating a machine politician in a New York Democratic primary for Congress last June. Ever since then, Republicans and conservatives have been trying to smear her as a know-nothing socialist ditz unfit to sit in the House chamber with all those gray-bearded sages who have made the House such a model of reasoned and informed debate.

The latest such campaign erupted this weekend. I’m not talking about the unearthing of a dance video from her college years, which backfired spectacularly by making Ocasio-Cortez seem youthful and joyous, but an interview with the newly minted member of Congress broadcast Sunday on “60 Minutes” but released by CBS on Friday.

In the interview, Ocasio-Cortez argues for raising the top federal income tax rate on the richest Americans to as much as 70% from the current 37% and using the money to convert the country to renewable energy.

Conservative heads exploded. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) accused her on Twitter of wanting to “take away 70% of your income and give it to leftist fantasy programs.” Right-wing anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist implied that the “expropriation” of 70% of “your production” was coming uncomfortably close to “slavery.” Pro-Trump commentator Ryan Fournier declared that he was “not going to work my ass off for the rest of my life for 70% of my income to go to the government.”


January 7, 2019

Forbidding terrain and foreboding feelings at remote border crossing

Antelope Wells is 170 miles southwest of El Paso, a three-hour drive through forbidding terrain, where stray dogs and deadly snakes roam and where even the water in wells can prove poisonous. It’s at the southernmost tip of New Mexico known as the Bootheel. Once you leave Interstate 10 for the last half of the drive to Antelope Wells, civilization dwindles.

Last month, Jakelin Caal Maquin, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl crossed the border here with her father and a group of migrants after a bus dropped them on a similarly isolated stretch of north Mexican highway. After they turned themselves in to seek asylum, Border Patrol agents were driving them to the closest station eight hours later when Jakelin fell ill. Shortly after being flown from there to an El Paso hospital, about 27 hours after the crossing, Jakelin had a heart attack and died.

Critics of the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown say the case illustrates the dangers of funneling migrants toward harsher, more dangerous crossings, and question whether agents were negligent. President Trump has blamed immigration policies shaped by Democrats and also Jakelin’s father for placing her at risk, stoking fears of a border crisis that he repeatedly says necessitates a wall.

A drive down the desolate road Jakelin traveled from this desert crossing makes clear both how harsh the landscape can be, and how fear of a border crisis continues to spread.


January 7, 2019

Torture apologist Liz Cheney weighs in on somebody else saying a swear word

I wasn't going to comment on Rep. Rashida Tlaib saying A Swear Word because it is self-evidently a petty, pissy little story, the sort of quick skillet-fried story that a certain brand of conservative punditry relies on but which would pass without comment in nearly any other American context. But then Liz Fucking Cheney, Torture Apologist weighed in on it, and that was a bit much, so here we are.

“You’ve had very foul language used,” said House GOP chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), whose dad, former Vice President Dick Cheney, in 2004 told Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to “fuck yourself” while the two were on the Senate floor for a group photo.

The first thing to know about Rep. Liz Cheney is that she is a torture apologist, and not at all muddied on the subject. She exists in politics because her father, a still-unindicted war criminal directly responsible for the deaths of many thousands of human beings after a campaign of gaudy lies and deceptions, is one of the nastiest works to be ever carved from conservative stock and, therefore, an icon of the movement. She has been a grotesque, cynical human being her entire career, the sort of person who would cheat you out of a dollar just to prove she could, a long line of conservative half-criminals whose begrudging tolerance for democracy relies on just how much they can squeeze out of it, all the while wrapped tight in a flag and protesting in raised voices about how anyone who objects to their antics must obviously hate America, apple pie, and their own mothers.

Obviously, Rep. Liz Cheney does not give a damn about foul language used by a United States Representative. In the slightest. Instead, this is yet another instance of the performative amorality of the conservative movement she so effortlessly slithered into. Like Trump, like her father, like each of the two-bit swindlers tapped for and booted from administration positions in which longtime lobbyist priorities are balanced, and not well, with petty theft—the only ethical lines are what you can get away with, and every moral question can be answered by querying whether the person doing it is a Republican or Anybody Else.

And it is dull and boring, and it is inherently corrupt, and anathema to democracy itself, and it is the performative stage on which every last televised and written-about public debate is carried out in America today.


Hunter goes on to really nail Republican conservatives to the wall. Good read.

January 6, 2019

As a new Congress settles in, California's newest members prove hard to ignore

It was nearly impossible to ignore California as a new Congress was sworn in.

There was the moment House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield handed over the gavel to Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco on Thursday. And the spectacle of the state’s 53 House members filing into the chamber, some belting out the old jazz tune “California, Here I Come,” drawing chuckles from the crowd.

Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, California’s seven new Democratic members, each of whom seized control of Republican-held seats in the midterms and had never previously been elected to public office, commanded attention of their own. Part of the biggest cohort in the largest freshman class in decades, they could wield outsize power for first-time members.

On Thursday morning, Rep. Katie Hill (D-Agua Dulce) was trailed by family, several news cameras and a boom microphone. Her entourage turned heads as they barreled through the packed hallways of the Longworth House Office Building, down the steps and out into the crisp January air on their way to the Capitol.


Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 48
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 15,942
Latest Discussions»Zorro's Journal